Interviewing

Interview Question: "What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment?"

November 23, 2020

There are several common interview questions employers may ask to learn more about you. One of these questions is “What is your greatest accomplishment?” Some other ways this might be asked includes:

  • What work are you most proud of?
  • What would you consider your most impressive achievement?
  • Can you describe an important goal you accomplished?

This question provides you the opportunity to share a relevant, impressive accomplishment that demonstrates the value you will bring to your potential employer. In this article, we discuss reasons why interviewers ask this question and how to answer it with examples. 

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Interviewers ask this question to gain insight about your proven work and what achievements you view as most valuable and important. When interviewers ask about your greatest accomplishment, they are interested in learning about three main things:

  1. Your work ethic: Interviewers are interested in what you view as an “accomplishment” and the proven work you completed to achieve it.

  2. Your core values: Interviewers are interested in which accomplishment you select as your “greatest” and why.

  3. Examples of your work: Interviewers want to learn about specific examples of your work. These examples give them an idea of projects you have completed and what they can expect from you.

Related: Interview Question: “What is Your Greatest Strength?”

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How to answer “What is your greatest accomplishment?”

To answer this interview question, it is important that you prepare an outline of your answer so you will feel comfortable providing an answer during your interview. Here are steps you can take to prepare a good answer:

Begin by making a list of your accomplishments

Put together two to three stories that you feel represent your best work as it relates to the position for which you’re applying. These examples will be stories that showcase your most interesting and impressive accomplishments. It's a good idea to think of more than one example so you can tailor your story to different interviews. Plus, if you have more than one example ready, you'll be prepared if the interviewer asks you to discuss your additional accomplishments.

If you’re having trouble thinking of impressive achievements, consider times you have been complimented or recognized for your work. Think of ways you have made an impact in your previous positions, such as making it possible for a task to be completed faster or with fewer people, saving the company money or increasing revenue in some way. If you have received a recent promotion, think of the reasons why you may have been promoted.

Review the job description

To make your answer relevant to the interviewer and company, be sure to review the job description and research the company. This will help you select an accomplishment that demonstrates the skills and qualities the employer is looking for.

Follow the STAR (Situation, Task, Approach and Result) approach

This will give you an opportunity to focus on the key details of your accomplishment and create a story for your interviewer that's memorable and concise.

How to use the STAR method

To use the star method, you should follow four distinct steps to form a cohesive, concise and clear answer: Situation, Task, Approach and Results.

1. Situation

In the first part of your answer, provide brief context that sets up your accomplishment. This often describes a certain issue you, your team or your company is experiencing.

Example: “In my marketing internship at a software company, the team spent several hours each month organizing budget sheets.”

2. Task

Next, explain your role within the situation. This could include the tasks you are responsible for, the role you played in a certain issue or certain skills you offered that were of value.

Example: “While my role typically consisted of assisting the other marketers with copywriting and other creative tasks, I thought my experience handling budget sheets from a finance course I had completed might be of use.”

3. Approach

Then, discuss the ways you contributed to making an impact or solving a problem. Make this concise and applicable to the interviewer by including keywords from the job description.

Example: “After getting approval from my supervisor to take this project on, I developed a more organized budget process that allowed each teammate to keep their own section organized on a weekly basis so we no longer had to rehaul the entire budget each month.”

4. Result

To complete your answer, describe the positive outcome of your work. If you can provide concrete results with numbers (saved the company $5,000, increased sales by 30%) your answer will be more impactful.

Example: “After a quarter of using the new process, we reduced the time spent organizing budgets by 35%, allowing the team to focus on more important marketing projects.”

Related: How to Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Example answers for “What is your greatest accomplishment?”

As you keep the STAR approach in mind, consider the following examples of how you can answer a question about your greatest accomplishment.

Example 1:

“In my last position, our technology development team lost a colleague due to relocation. He was the lead developer for the iOS version of the app. Unfortunately, no one else on the team had worked with iOS to develop apps. Since I had experience developing an iOS app, I volunteered to take on the lead role of development and deployment of the app. I worked with the other team members to create and troubleshoot the new app. I was able to finish the development 60 days ahead of schedule. It's currently available in the iTunes Store and already has over 350 positive reviews and has offered an additional revenue stream for the company.”

Example 2:

“In my most recent job I was responsible for managing the orientation and training programs for our new hires. Unfortunately, the content was not engaging. While it was necessary information for our new hires to have, we found that only 35% of new hires did not complete the training. We were also receiving poor feedback on the course evaluation forms. I decided to rework the training program to make it more relevant and interesting based on industry best practices and feedback on the evaluation forms. Today, 93% of participants complete the training and provide positive feedback about their experience. My manager was so pleased with the improvements that she asked me to lead a training seminar in our New York office."

By planning our your answer and preparing for your interview, you will be able to provide a unique and compelling answer to this common interview question.